Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Congratulations, Columbia 400


Faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall mountains in a single bound, look, up in the flight levels, it’s the 230-plus-knot certified Lancair single!


Congratulations, Columbia 400Any aircraft manufacturer who is serious about marketing big-bore singles for global application has got to at least consider turbocharging. There’s just too much of the world that lies a half-mile or more above sea level to ignore that market. Sale of successful heavy-breathers have proven that there’s money to be made in marketing for pilots who need to operate from the middle density altitudes, if not necessarily in the flight levels." />

Climb on up to FL250, and the top number may be closer to 240 knots, a considerable figure for an airplane with wheels hanging in the wind. Before you ask, I questioned Tom Bowen about the company’s plans for a retractable version. He wouldn’t discuss future products, but you can bet a retract won’t be far down the road. Experience suggests that you could reasonably expect a 15- to 20-knot improvement with the wheels tucked into the fuselage. Throw in a few aerodynamic tweaks (assuming that there are any left), and a theoretical retractable Columbia 400 running 85% at FL250 might touch the magic 261 knots (300 mph).

Max cruise will extract a 19-gph fuel penalty, so you’ll need to look for a place to land every four hours, but you’ll be at least 900 nm down the road. Throttle back to long-range settings, and you can easily stretch the Columbia 400’s 98 gallons to 1,100 nm plus reserve, making one-stop, one-day transcontinental hops possible in much of the lower 48 states.

Handling qualities with the molded, wood side stick are quick, but probably not the lightest you’ve experienced, especially if you’ve flown the homebuilt Lancairs. Fly the airplane to the bottom of the envelope, and stalls are a non-event, a good indication of landing manners as well.

Entry-level price for the Columbia 400 is $475,000, but in this case, the entry-level cost buys a fully IFR-equipped airplane. It includes dual Garmin 430s, an STEC-55A autopilot and virtually everything to let you leap in and fly. There also are options such as speed brakes, a hot-wing de-ice system (still to be certified), the aforementioned climate control unit and more. Lancair has packaged many of the options to cut production incorporation costs, and that’s definitely the best way to go if you want a totally decked-out Columbia 400.

Elevated to the flight levels, Lancair’s newest airplane will cruise right on by Malibus, Mooneys and all other production singles that fly behind piston engines (not to mention a majority of twins and even some turboprops). Whatever its other talents, that alone guarantees that the airplane will find favor with the class of pilots for which faster is always better.

For more information, contact Lancair Certified Aircraft at (541) 318-1144 or log on to www.lancair.com.

SPECS: Lancair Columbia 400 N143LC



Labels: Piston Singles

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